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I love reading books. They’re my secret weapon for accessing critical thinking. Here’s a short listing of my favorite books / authors who inspired me and exhausted my Kindle in 2014 (by the author’s last name in alphabetical order). Note: Some of these titles are pre-2014.
Mitch Joel described Seth Godin’s 18th book as the most beautiful illustration of Seth’s teachings. You can’t buy Seth’s latest book on Amazon (or any mainstream book retailer). You can only buy it at http://www.yourturn.link/. Beautiful, glossy images explode with color on every page. If I were a Hollywood producer, I’d pitch it as Linchpin and The Icarus Deception collide in a 20-car pile up at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week.
Seth calls out our schadenreude, spectator sport culture, and it’s power in curbing intelligent risk taking (except in Silicon Valley). When It’s Your Turn is an in-your-face, call-to-arms, entrepreneurship manifesto. The battle cry rallies around showing up everyday, to create and ship our art. Now’s the time to revel in that uncomfortable place of “this may or may not work.”
I’m moving into a new career as an entrepreneur in an early stage startup, That’s a scary leap after corporate life. But, those simultaneous feelings and fear are the right place to be:
I’m late in reading this classic marketing book. I hope to meet Seth, shake his hand, and talk marketing strategy. That requires fluency in Ideavirus terminology (i.e., sneezers – both promiscuous and powerful, the hive, persistence — not the one related to effort, vector, vacuum, amplifier, smoothness, etc.).
Ideavirus parallels Malcolm Gladwell’s idea diffusion theories from The Tipping Point and Geoffrey Moore’s insights from Crossing the Chasm. Like the Beatles music catalog, Ideavirus remains simple, timeless, and relevant.
I’m a die-hard fan and friend to Ann Handley. Last year, I published a public fan letter expressing my appreciation and respect for her work and generosity. Two weeks later, Ann sent me a signed copy of Content Rules and other great marketing books. Her attitude to give versus receive says it all.
Writing Matters. Writing with Purpose Matters More. Ann is an important inspiration for my blog post about six (6) C-Suite traits among awesome female executives who stand out. The media’s endless joy in reporting our children lag their global counterparts in the STEM 100 meter dash ignores an important fact: writing and storytelling skills propel financing for ideas and inventions.
Technical prowess and technical insight aren’t enough. Creative storytelling and written communication carry equal weight (direct quote from Everybody Writes, page eight):
What’s harder is to find a book that functions for marketers as part writing and story guide, part instructional manual on the ground rules of ethical publishing, and part straight talk on some muscle-building writing processes and habits.
What’s also hard to find is a book that distills some helpful ideas about the craft of content simply and (I hope) memorably, framed for the marketer and businessperson, as opposed to say, the novelist or essayist or journalist.
I wrote this book because I couldn’t find what I wanted—part writing guide, part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands.
Everybody Writes teaches disciplined practice to elevate and sustain our writing skills. Ann’s book reads like cozy conversation with her while enjoying a great cup of coffee or a couple of frosty Sam Adams beers (keep in mind, she’s a Bostonian).
Ann poured her heart and soul into this work (or as she says “gave birth to a Volkswagen”). I guarantee you’ll benefit from her knowledge, talent, and heart.
If I could time travel to 2009, I would grab two books and my MacBook Pro before jumping into a hot tub time machine:
If Tribes is the strategic and conceptual framework for digital leadership, Platform is the tactical roadmap for its successful execution. Creating and managing a personal brand is imperative in a crowded marketplace and recovering economy. Michael’s book unpacks the why’s and how’s of building a digital platform — i.e., the collective fans who subscribe to and follow your blog, email newsletter, podcast, Twitter feed, etc.
He explains step-by-step how he built his influential online presence and to power his career as a publisher, educator, and public speaker.
Read this Wall Street Journal article by Taylor Swift (yes, that Taylor Swift). Her anecdote about an actress friend losing a movie role to another actor with a higher Twitter following extends beyond the entertainment industry. It’s the heart of Michael’s book: the reach and influence of our digital platforms (or lack thereof) either rockets (or torpedoes) opportunity.
Art takes many forms (e.g., words, pictures, spreadsheets, presentations, sculptures, music, photographs, process diagrams, or anything we create with pride). These remarkable books capture Austin Kleon‘s philosophies and experiences on creating and promoting art. These fun, short reads answer two common questions among artists, writers, entrepreneurs, or marketers:
- Question 1: How Do I Create My Art? Answer: Steal Like an Artist
- Question 2: How Do I Promote My Art? Answer: Show Your Work
David Meerman Scott influences my thoughts and writing about reinventing marketing strategy every day. I fell in love with digital marketing and inbound marketing strategy after reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR five years ago. I own all of his marketing strategy books, and envy his ability to write with a rebel’s heart.
When David sent me an advance copy of his latest book, I was honored and thrilled. He’s leading the pack in describing how diverse organizations (from the Fortune 500, SMBs, and individual practitioners) use social selling to engage customers throughout the buying process. He published social selling success stories long before LinkedIn Sales Solutions made “social selling” in vogue.
His latest work may finally make organizations pay attention to their most valuable customers—their existing ones. Loyalty, fandom, and connection matter are game changers when fickle consumers can leave with a glance and a tap of their smartphones.
How to Be a Power Connector: The 5 + 50 + 150 Rule for Turning Your Business Network Into Profits by Judy Robinett
LinkedIn’s Economic Graph Challenge generated tremendous hype. If Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn’s CEO), can morph How to Be a Power Connector’s core principles into simple, seamless, and intuitive features, he will create the world’s most valuable social network.
Inc. Magazine selected How to Be a Power Connector as the Number 1 Business Book of 2014. I’m twenty percent through it, and I’m convinced Judy’s book and Seth Godin’s What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn) will prove indispensable in my new career as an entrepreneur.
I usually don’t publish reviews until I’ve finished reading the book. I made an exception with How to Be a Power Connector. Judy’s 25 years of wisdom and experiences are that important. I’ve arrived at the sobering realization my networking skills are deficient. I’ve done some things well. But, I lack consistency in adding value to my business network as well as strategically assessing, prioritizing, and systematizing it.
Thank goodness that’s exactly what Judy teaches! Her book will change my life. Invest in yourself by buying and studying How to Be a Power Connector. It will change your life too.
Study Peter Thiel’s work (and his former Stanford Computer Science 183 Startup student, Blake Masters’ notes) to learn and think like the real deal. The resounding themes throughout Thiel’s book: (1) think like a contrarian; (2) question and take action against conventional wisdom:
That courage to ask and act upon, “why does it have to be this way,” drove not only Thiel’s entrepreneurial successes, but also the successful ventures of Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, and other PayPal Mafia members.
Traction delivers a clear, how-to method supported by real-world, actionable insights. Gabriel‘s and Justin‘s interviews and case studies describe the successful execution of Traction’s Bulls Eye Methodology. Bulls Eye focuses on the second most important aspect of an early stage startup’s life cycle:
- Critical Success Factor Number 1: Create, release, test, iterate, your product or service (hopefully, a good one solving a current problem)
- Critical Success Factor Number 2: Get customers by experimenting / testing, measuring, and ultimately focusing on one customer acquisition tactic
- Critical Success Factor Number 3: Max out the customer acquisition in CSF Number 2 and repeat Bulls Eye to find another customer acquisition tactic
I’ve ultra-summarized the book’s thesis. Read the first three chapters of Traction for free by joining the Traction Book mailing list. If you’re a team member of an early stage startup (like myself), invest in your company’s development by studying Gabriel and Justin’s book.
Please share in the comments the digital marketing and entrepreneurship business books you read in 2014. What did you love about them? How did they inspire you?
I’m here to learn from YOUR PERSPECTIVE. Comments are open. Let’er rip!
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Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He thinks and writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy in his personal blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.